AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi was arrested on Wednesday night by the Uttar Pradesh police after he joined the land war here, pledging full support to farmers fighting against acquisition while lambasting Chief Minister Mayawati.
“Rahul Gandhi has been arrested under Section 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code and will be presented before a Sub-Divisional Magistrate tomorrow [Thursday],” Inspector General of Police (Meerut Range) Rajnikant Mishra said.
Mr. Gandhi was taken away from the dharna site in Bhatta Parsaul village in a grey Tata Safari to an undisclosed location.
The Amethi MP smiled to the large battery of media before getting into the vehicle along with AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh and Firozabad MP Raj Babbar.
‘We will back stir'
“We will continue to support the farmers' agitation,” Mr. Singh said as he was pushed into the vehicle.
The Congress promptly attacked Ms. Mayawati for Mr. Gandhi's arrest saying Uttar Pradesh has witnessed “the cruellest rule of several imperialistic regimes.”
“Uttar Pradesh government's action in arresting Rahul Gandhi proves that Mayawati is digging her own grave,” Congress leader Janardhan Dwivedi said.
“If any sense of justice is left in the government, judicial inquiry is the minimum that the State government should order immediately,” he said.
War of words
Even as Mr. Gandhi sat on a dharna, a war of words erupted, with Bharatiya Janata Party terming it as a “drama” and wanting to know why the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was still not acting on his earlier promise of bringing Land Acquisition Bill in Parliament.
The Congress, on its part, said it was keen to get on early passage of the bill in Parliament.
Mr. Gandhi said he associated with the farmers as they were demanding their “right” and there was “nothing wrong” in it.
“I want to tell you that I am with you till your demands are met. Till your work is not done, the Congress party will not desert you,” he said to a thunderous applause from the gathering which shouted slogans hailing him.
He said an official had told him that the agitation was like “Naxalism” but he had found that the farmers were peacefully making their demands.
Earlier, after reaching the village at 4 a.m. along with Mr. Digvijay Singh, he heard the farmers and had tea with them. He also visited various hamlets.
Mr. Gandhi's arrest was marked by high drama as a huge posse of U.P. police descended on the village as the Congress leader prepared to spend the night at farmer Rampal's home.
Sporadic sloganeering continued throughout the late evening hours and reached a crescendo as police arrested Mr. Gandhi, a SPG protectee, and other Congress leaders.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate Vishal Singh had met Mr. Gandhi in the evening and asked him to end the dharna in view of the potential security risk to him in view of the situation in the area. Mr. Vishal Singh also expressed inability to provide security as he had come without intimation.
Villagers show injuries
Some of the villagers showed to Mr. Gandhi injuries inflicted on them allegedly by the police. They claimed that all young males have either been detained by police or have left the village out of fear. The villagers claimed they were holding peaceful demonstration since January 17. — PTI